Myth #82: Homeless people live only on the streets
Myth of the Week #82:
Homeless people live in the streets.
About 69% of homeless Minnesotans were sheltered in 2018 , according to HUD’s 2018 Point in Time count.
A small portion of unsheltered homeless individuals live in vehicles. Truth is, the people you see on the streets represent a minority of those experiencing homelessness.
We work every day to help unsheltered individuals find safety and to help them work toward independence.
Help us do that!
Myth #81: Depression only happens because of bad things
Myth of the Week #81:
Depression only happens when something bad happens in your life, such as a breakup, the death of a loved one, or failing an exam.
Depression is more than just having occasional sad thoughts. While everyone experiences ups and downs in life, and often will feel sad for some time after a serious loss or disappointment, developing depression does not require a specific negative event. Prolonged periods of hopelessness, sadness, and lack of interest in things someone usually enjoys are symptoms of depression. Depression can arise suddenly, even when things in life seem to be going well.
No matter what kind of mental illness an individual is struggling with, our Day by Day program is ready to help them work toward recovery.
Myth #80: We don’t need more advocates
Myth of the Week #80:
Someone is already advocating. They’ve got it covered.
That is true! Someone else DOES have it covered. But there can never be too many people advocating for the issues that are important to them. We need our legislators to know that housing for all Minnesotans is our priority and it should be theirs too!
Below is info provided by Homes for All MN on how to reach your lawmaker. Don’t wait! Do it now!
With less than 24 hours of the legislative session, we need your voice now more than ever! The number of people experiencing homelessness across the state is growing, and more people are staying outside of a formal shelter; the need for flexible funding sources like the Emergency Services Program (ESP) is crucial. We also need to ensure that a bonding bill is passed. Please take a few moments to encourage your legislators to invest in housing and shelters across the state. The time to act is NOW!
What: Please reach out to your lawmakers with **TWO** phone calls or emails encouraging them to invest in the critical ESP program and to ensure that a bonding bill is passed!
People with mental health conditions are violent and dangerous.
Fact: Having a mental health condition does not make a person more likely to be violent or dangerous. The truth is, living with a mental health condition makes you more likely to be a victim of violence, four times the rate of the general public. Studies have shown that 1 in 4 individuals living with a mental health condition will experience some form of violence in any given year.
Myth #78: Those with mental illness are homeless
Myth of the Week #78:
Most people with mental illness live on the streets or are in mental hospitals.
Over two-thirds of Americans who have a mental illness live in the community and lead productive lives. Most people who need hospitalization are only there for brief periods to get treatment and are then able to return home, just like persons hospitalized for other conditions. Some people with mental illness do become homeless and could benefit from treatment and services.
Our Day by Day program provides those services. Want to help out? You can support us by donating or assembling Coping Skills Toolboxes. These toolboxes are filled with items to help individuals ground and calm themselves when they need it.
Myth #77: Food insecurity is always bad. It doesn’t fluctuate.
Myth of the Week #77:
The severity of food insecurity throughout the year never changes for families who struggle to put food on the table.
Many children enthusiastically associate summer vacation with the end of classes and homework for the year, but for some of the 22 million children who depend on schools for free or reduced-priced meals, an essential ingredient of their life is noticeably absent: a steady source of food and nutrition. Children obtain 50% of their calories from food eaten at school. However, during summer vacation, with school no longer in session, many food-insecure children lose access to meals for free or reduced prices. During the school year, nutritious meals are available through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. But those programs end when school lets out for the summer.
This is why our Food Centre is so important. We see a marked increase in the number of families eating with us during school vacations and snow days. Thank you for helping us ensure that some of our most vulnerable neighbors still get to eat every day.
Myth #76: There’s nothing you can do about addiction
Myth of the Week #76:
Addiction is a disease; there’s nothing you can do about it.
Fact: Most experts agree that addiction is a brain-based disease, but that doesn’t mean one is a helpless victim. The brain changes related to addiction can be treated and reversed through therapy, medication, exercise, and other treatments. As with any behavioral change, a personal commitment to change comes from within and requires a commitment to focus on the treatment plan.
Myth #75: You can age out of volunteering
Myth of the Week #75:
You can only volunteer if you are a student or a fresh graduate.
Students and fresh graduates will certainly learn a lot when they volunteer, but they are not the only ones who can (and do) volunteer. Anyone can help.
In fact, demographic data from a recent study by the CNCS shows that 19.2 million volunteers were baby boomers, 4.8 million were veterans, 11 million were 65+, and 19.9 million were Generation Xers.
For as long as you’re willing to help, you can never be too old to volunteer. It’s all about doing something you’re passionate about.
And we’re so glad you’re as passionate about feeding our hungry neighbors as we are!
Myth #74: Affordable housing hurts education
Affordable housing hurts the quality of local schools and lowers standardized test scores.
The opposite is actually true. Without affordable housing, many families become trapped in a cycle of rising rents and have to move frequently to find living space they can afford. That means their children are not able to stay in the same school for long, resulting in lower test scores on standardized tests. When a child has a stable home, and can remain in a single school system, their test scores rise. It also means children are able to build the long-term relationships with peers, teachers, and mentors that are key to increasing performance in elementary and secondary schools. It also increases the likelihood that children will be able to attend college. When housing disruptions are minimized, everybody wins. We advocate for initiatives like Homework Starts With Home and other programs and legislation. Become one of our very important advocates today!
Myth #73: SNAP benefits are wasted on junk food
Myth of the Week #73:
All people struggling financially get food stamps (now called SNAP), and they use them to buy expensive food that I can’t even afford.
In many areas, fewer than half the families that are eligible for SNAP actually receive benefits. SNAP benefits typically last only 2 weeks, no matter how carefully they are used. Studies show that families on SNAP are careful shoppers and purchase more nutritious food than non-food stamp households.
Our Food Centre helps individuals fill the gaps when the little assistance they do receive runs out.
Myth #72: Relapse is failure
Myth of the Week #72:
If you relapse after rehab, you’re back to square one.
Relapse is not defeat—it’s a normal, even expected part of recovery. The National Institute on Drug Abuse compares addiction treatment to treatment for hypertension. Both follow a similar pattern of treatment, relapse, and treatment adjustment:
“Successful treatment for addiction typically requires continual evaluation and lapses to drug abuse do not indicate failure—rather, they signify that treatment needs to be reinstated or adjusted, or that alternate treatment is needed.”
If you relapse, don’t lose hope. Talk to your counselor or sponsor, refocus, and get back in the game.
Myth #71: Health care and education deserve more attention than housing
Myth of the Week #71:
Sure, housing is important, but when you consider vital social issues, it’s not at the top of the list. Health care, education and jobs, for example, demand more attention and resources.
The reality is that health and education suffer and job opportunities diminish if affordable housing is not available. In fact, the lack of adequate housing directly undermines society’s massive investment of tens of billions of dollars in health and education
Housing is the foundation of success. Help us keep providing that.
Myth #70: Physical illness is worse than mental illness
Myth of the Week #70:
Physical health conditions are worse than mental health conditions.
Physical conditions such as diabetes and heart disease require special attention and medication such as mental health disorders require specific treatment approaches. Mental health conditions are legitimate medical illnesses and should be treated as such. Every year, individuals die from mental health disorders as well as from physical health disorders. The only difference between physical health conditions and mental health disorders is the negative stigma surrounding mental health disorders resulting in limited access to treatment.
Help us destroy negative stigma and provide treatment to those who need it.
Myth #69: I’ll never need food assistance
Myth of the Week #69:
I’ll never need to go to a food pantry, soup kitchen, or public lunch service like House of Charity’s
No one plans to need help. Many people live from paycheck to paycheck and are thrust into poverty by crises like the death of a wage earner, natural disaster, divorce, or medical emergencies. Families in crisis may choose to forgo food in order to pay other bills since food is often one of the few flexible expenses they have.
Our Food Centre is open every single day of the year. So no matter when crises happen, our community can always find a warm, filling meal with us.
Myth #68: The government spends more on welfare than defense
Myth of the Week #68:
Welfare spending is the single largest item in the federal budget, even bigger than defense spending.
In 2014, the United States spent $615 billion on defense spending. Compare that to the combined $370 billion spent on the Earned Income Tax Credit, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Section 8 housing assistance, and other poverty relief programs. There are many government programs that help a lot of people, at different stages in their lives, in different ways. However, the programs that directly target poverty make up a relatively small portion of our federal budget.
Myth #67: Homeless people don’t need luxuries like phones
MYTH OF THE WEEK #67:
Homeless people don’t need cell phones. Cell phones are a luxury.
Cell phones are a lifeline for people experiencing homelessness and are sometimes their only connection to family, services, housing and employment.
Every Wednesday, we have someone in our Food Centre helping diners sign up for simple phones. Those phones are often their lifeline.
Myth #66: Enough other people are working to end hunger
Myth of the Week #66:
There are plenty of people working to end hunger. My help isn’t needed.
ore than half of all lunch services, soup kitchens and food pantries rely on the support of volunteers and donors to keep their doors open.
Two-thirds of emergency food programs (67%) indicate they serve more clients now than ever.
Every hour spent in our Food Centre and every dollar given to support us makes a difference. No contribution of time or money is too little or unappreciated.
Myth #65: I will never have mental illness
Myth of the Week #65:
Mental illness will never affect me.
Mental illness is more prevalent than many people think: One in five Americans experiences it in their lifetime. One in twenty-five Americans experience a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities. It can affect anyone, including all ages, races, income levels and religions. These common conditions are medical, and can cause changes in how people think and feel.
The chances are high that you or someone you care about will experience mental illness. There is no shame in that. By learning all you can, you will be better prepared to support someone you care about or seek the help you need. We’re here to help.
Myth #64: People who are homeless are dangerous and violent
Myth of the Week #64:
People who are homeless are dangerous, violent, and/or criminals.
A person who is homeless is no more likely to be a criminal than a person who is housed, with one legal exception: camping ordinances. People who are homeless break that law merely by being unhoused. The reality is that most spend their time and resources trying to survive and improve their situation. Rather than being dangerous or lawbreakers, they are parents trying to work or find a job while they live in a car with their children. They are teens who have no supportive adults in their lives while they try to find a place to live, so they can hopefully stay in school. They are senior citizens with poor health struggling to get by. People who are homeless are more likely to be victims of a crime than to commit a crime. It is important that we not vilify people without homes but instead, see them as neighbors in need of the best-fit assistance that can help them find a home.
Myth #63: Housing should come with sobriety conditions
Myth of the Week #63:
Housing should come with conditions like being clean and sober.
Evidence tells us that people who are homeless can find stability and healing when provided permanent housing and access to services. Known as Housing First, this approach acknowledges the complexities of addiction, trauma, and the challenges that come with experiencing homelessness. It also acknowledges that it can be very difficult to successfully address challenges while living on the streets or in an unsafe and unstable situation.
We are proud to partner with Hennepin County to combat homelessness through participation in the Housing First Program.
Myth #62: I can’t do anything to help the hungry by myself
Myth of the Week #62:
I’m only one person. There is nothing I can do to help those who are hungry.
While one person can’t resolve the hunger crisis in America, one person can end the hunger crisis for one person. It starts with you. There are days when crises like hunger and homelessness seem impossible to eradicate, but if every single one of us chose to do something about it, we could actually change these problems.
It takes only you to make sure someone has a warm bed or filling meal this holiday season.
Donate, stop in to volunteer and be one more person helping us end hunger and homelessness!
Myth #61: People with addictions have to hit rock bottom before recovery
Myth of the Week #61:
Those with substance use disorders have to hit “rock bottom” before they can get help.
Recovery can begin at any point in the addiction process. Given the impacts on the brain and possible consequences of addiction, the earlier one can get treatment, the better. The longer drug abuse continues, the stronger the addiction becomes and the harder it is to treat. Get help early rather than holding out for the perfect desperate moment.
Myth #60: Food and shelter services enable people to stay homeless
Myth of the Week #60:
Providing food and shelter only enables people to remain homeless.
Food and shelter are essentials for life. By offering our public lunch, we are able to support individuals every day, because finding a job or paying attention in school is so much easier with a full stomach. Our housing and treatment programs work with the whole individual to not only complete our program but to regain their independence.
Myth #59: Hunger only happens during disasters or emergencies
Myth of the Week #59:
People are only hungry during emergencies or disasters.
We know first hand that this isn’t true. The fact alone that our Food Centre is filled with people every day disproves this.
Emergencies only account for eight percent of the world’s hungry. There are close to one billion hungry people in the world who do not make the headlines and yet they go to bed hungry every night. This is why long-term efforts like school meals programs are so important.
Remember this during the holiday season. Remember as you are preparing your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner that there are thousands of individuals, in our city alone, that face a cold and hungry holiday season.
What can you do to ensure that fewer people face a hopeless holiday?
Myth #58: Veterans are more likely to be homeless
Myth of the Week #58:
Veterans are more likely to be homeless.
According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, veterans make up less than 10% of the homeless population. In recent years, there were less than 50,000 homeless veterans on the streets of America—the lowest number since stats have been kept on this population.
We work every day to make sure that individuals are given the opportunity to find housing and independence. Help us keep doing that for everyone, especially our veterans.
Myth #57: Hunger is in cities
Myth of the Week #57:
Hunger is most frequently found in cities.
Hunger is everywhere.
Hunger is common in rural areas—including some of the farming communities that grow America’s crops. Seventy-five percent of the counties with the highest hunger rates in America are in rural areas. Limited access to jobs, transportation, and education make it tough to earn a living in remote areas like rural Alaska. Some are forced to choose between paying for groceries or other essentials like heat. This is an especially difficult choice for parents during the winter, and it’s all too common.
Myth #56: Those will mental illness are dangerous
Myth of the Week#56:
Someone living with a mental illness is more likely to commit a crime or be violent.
Stigma and fear cause harm to the men and women we work with in our Day by Day program. We need your help to make it stop.
Myth #55: Hunger couldn’t happen to me
Myth of the Week #55:
Hunger couldn’t happen to me.
Hunger doesn’t discriminate. Many of our clients never thought they’d be standing in line for lunch at the Food Centre. All it takes is a car problem that drains the bank account, a job loss in a bad economy, a health crisis that makes it impossible to work. No one is immune to hunger.
When unexpected events happen and people don’t have enough to eat, we help. Hunger doesn’t discriminate or take a holiday and neither does our Food Centre.
Myth #54: Addiction is the cause of homelessness
Myth of the Week #54:
The main cause of homelessness is drug and alcohol abuse.
Substance use disorders are the cause for homelessness in less than a quarter of those who experience homelessness on any given night.The more common causes for homelessness are traumatic events like domestic abuse or PTSD experienced by veterans.
The severe lack of affordable housing is also a major barrier to reducing homelessness.
We need to focus our attention on the biggest causes of homelessness rather than operating on bias.
Myth #53: Hunger is a health issue
Myth of the Week #53:
Hunger is primarily a health issue.
This issue also affects education and the economy. Hungry children struggle to focus, learn, or even attend school. Without education, it’s much harder for them to grow up and contribute to the growth of the national economy. A study in Guatemala found that kids who received fortified food before the age of three grew up to have wages 46 percent higher than those in a control group.
Our Food Centre works to provide wholesome, filling and healthy meals to every individual who joins us for lunch
Myth #52: Resolving hunger is only filling stomachs
Myth of the Week #52:
Resolving hunger means only ensuring that people have enough to eat.
Hunger also involves the type of food you eat. Good nutrition means having the right combination of nutrients and calories needed for healthy development. It’s especially important for infants, pregnant women and young children.
Our Food Centre works to provide wholesome, filling and healthy meals to every individual who joins us for lunch.
Myth #51: Kids can’t have mental illness
Myth of the Week #51:
Kids can’t have a mental illness like depression. Those are adult problems.
Even children can experience mental illnesses. In fact, many mental illnesses first appear when a person is young. Mental illnesses may look different in children than in adults, but they are a real concern. Mental illnesses can impact the way young people learn and build skills, which can lead to challenges in the future. Unfortunately, many children don’t receive the help they need.
Myth #50: Medication-assisted treatment is just creating another addiction
Myth of the Week #50:
Medication-assisted treatment replaces one addiction with another.
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) has been proven to save lives and substantially improve recovery rates. For people in treatment for substance use disorders, medications ease withdrawal symptoms and prevent overdoses. Medication doesn’t create a high or cause impairment.
Myth #49: The only worth-while treatment is medication
Myth of the Week #49:
Therapy and self-help are a waste of time. Why bother when you can just take a pill?
Treatment for mental health problems varies depending on the individual and could include medication, therapy, or both. Many individuals work with a support system during the healing and recovery process.
Our Day by Day Program works with individuals to find a plan that works best for them, because every recovery journey is different.
Myth #48: There’s no hope for those with addictions
Myth of the Week #48:
People with addiction are hopeless.
Many people can and do recover from addiction. We just don’t hear their stories as often. Once treatment begins, someone with a substance use disorder can move on to manage the disease, just as they would any other chronic illness. With the right treatment, recovery is possible for everyone.
Our Day by Day Program works with individuals to find a plan that works best for them, because every recovery journey is different.
Myth #47: Those who struggle with hunger are always homeless
Myth of the Week #47:
People who face hunger in America are typically homeless and unemployed.
According to Feeding America, most of the households they serve are not homeless, and they have at least one working adult. In homes across the nation, there are people who wake up with the sun and turn out the lights late. They’re working nearly every day, giving back to their community and raising a family. Even though they’re pinching pennies, they struggle to fill their plates with the food they need to keep going.
Our Food Centre helps fill the gaps when pinching pennies still isn’t enough.
We help individuals escape homelessness and work with them to regain independence.
Myth #45: Affordable housing is detrimental to education
Myth of the Week #45:
Affordable housing hurts the quality of local schools and lowers standardized test scores.
The opposite is actually true. Without affordable housing, many families become trapped in a cycle of rising rents and have to move frequently to find living space they can afford. That means their children are not able to stay in the same school for long, resulting in lower test scores on standardized tests. When a child has a stable home, and can remain in a single school systems, their test scores rise. It also means children are able to build the long-term relationships with peers, teachers, and mentors, that are key to increasing performance in elementary and secondary schools. It also increases the likelihood that children will be able to attend college.
When housing disruptions are minimized, everybody wins.
Myth #44: People go to food shelves for junk food
Myth of the Week #44:
People are seeking assistance from food shelves because they want junk food and pre-packaged dinners.
One of the perceptions is that people are going to pick easy, packaged dinners or snacks, and that they’re not going to pick the healthier foods. But, really, when you ask the people who are going to the food shelf, it’s the healthy foods that they want for their family. We’re hearing that people – almost unanimously – are requesting healthy staples: poultry, eggs, dairy and high-protein foods. But if people are running low on food, sometimes the only thing they can afford are the ramen and the snack foods and the things you can find at your corner store, which may not be the healthiest. What we need to do is provide the type of food that people otherwise wouldn’t be able to get because it’s expensive or hard to access.
Myth #43: Mental illness is only one thing
Myth of the Week #43:
Mental illness is a single, rare disorder.
Fact: Anxiety disorders, mood disorders, personality disorders, addiction disorders and impulse control disorders are all different categories of very different mental illnesses- each with its own features and underlying causes (common mental illnesses). Each mental illness is a variation on the theme of brain chemistry gone awry, affecting things like mood and perception and each has its own specific causes, features and approaches to treatment.
Myth #42: Hunger is only a health issue
Myth of the Week #42:
Hunger is really only a health issue.
This issue also affects education and the economy. Hungry children struggle to focus, learn, or even attend school. Without education, it’s much harder for them to grow up and contribute to the growth of the national economy. In adults, an empty stomach has a negative effect on work and other responsibilities.
People need food not only to survive, but to be able to do simple every day things.
Myth #41: Most homeless have been so for a long time
Myth of the Week #41:
Most of the homeless are chronically homeless. They have been homeless for a long time and will continue to be homeless.
Fact: In Minnesota, people are considered to be long-term homeless if they have been homeless for a year or longer or if they have been homeless four times in the past three years. In the 2015 study, only 60 percent of homeless adults fit this definition. Those who are experiencing long-term homelessness are often struggling because of other factors such as mental illness, chronic illness and substance abuse disorder.
Those experiencing short-term homelessness, where they are unsheltered for a night or a few weeks, are often in that situation because of factors such as domestic violence, lack of affordable housing, unemployment, poverty, and low wages.
Myth #40: Addicts are bad people
Myth of the Week #40:
Addicts are bad people.
FACT: Men and women who struggle with chemical dependence aren’t “bad” people trying to get “good,” they’re sick people trying to get well. They don’t belong to a particular race or exist only in certain parts of the country. They are lawyers, farmers, soldiers, mothers and grandfathers who struggle with drug dependence on a daily basis. They are proof that addiction doesn’t discriminate-but, thankfully, neither does recovery.
Myth #39: Hunger is only about food
Myth of the Week #39:
Hunger is only about food.
Fact: No issue as complex as hunger in America has such a simple cause.
Ever since President Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty in 1964, the government has worked diligently to ensure that no American goes hungry. For years, the USDA flooded communities with surplus commodities such as cheese and butter. Enrollment in the food stamp program (now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), the front-line federal weapon in the fight against hunger, is at an all-time high, with more than 40 million people receiving support.
Yet the number of Americans who struggle to put food on their tables has never decreased. This is because hunger isn’t about food. It’s about jobs and wages.
The passage of living-wage laws, tariffs that protect U.S. jobs and affordable housing would help combat the hunger issue in America.
When choosing between housing, medicine and food, eating will often come last.
Myth #38: Mental health conditions are rare
Myth of the Week #38:
Mental health conditions are uncommon.
Fact: Mental illness is more prevalent than many people think: One in five Americans experiences it in their lifetime. One in twenty-five Americans experience a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities. It can affect anyone, including all ages, races, income levels and religions. These common conditions are medical, and can cause changes in how people think and feel.
Myth #37: Homelessness only exists in big cities
Myth of the Week #37:
There are only people experiencing homelessness in big cities.
Fact: Homelessness is everywhere. It’s in every county and city in our country. Homelessness doesn’t always look the same. Sometimes it looks like a man on a street corner asking for money. Sometimes it looks like a teenager sleeping under a bridge. Sometimes it looks like a woman moving from couch to couch, hoping that someone else will let her stay with them for a few days.
It can even look different for the same person from day to day.
Myth #36: Hunger doesn’t exist in my neighborhood
Myth of the Week #36:
Hunger happens on the other side of the world, not near me.
Fact: Hunger is everywhere. It is in every county in America. And it doesn’t always look like our stereotypical picture of a starving individual. Sometimes it’s invisible.
It can be the single mom who barely has enough money left at the end of the month to buy food for her kids, much less herself.
It can look like the young boy, trying to pay attention in class while his stomach growls because his family couldn’t afford to buy food today.
It can look like you neighbor, you classmate, your coworker.
According to a new report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 17.4 million American families – almost 15 percent of U.S. households – are now “food insecure.” This means that, during any given month, they will be out of money, out of food, and forced to miss meals or seek assistance to feed themselves.
Myth #35: If they really wanted to, people could end their addictions
Myth of the Week #35:
Men and women who struggle with chemical dependency could stop using if they really wanted to.
Fact: It’s simply not that easy. For many, quitting “cold turkey” just isn’t an option.
“There’s this perception that people who are in treatment have not tried to quit on their own, and that’s usually not true,” said Psychiatrist Stephen Pannel, DO, ABPN, ABAM, medical director at Oxford Treatment Center.
“Most of the time, when people get to this point, they have already tried to stop. But the withdrawal or physical pain from quitting is so severe, they can’t bear it.”
“The problem for people who really suffer from addiction is that their physical dependence keeps them in a trap, with an inability to have any say-so over their brain and body,” Pannel said.
“To me, that’s the biggest barrier for people trying to understand the process of recovery. So much of what we do in modern medicine is fast and safe. You can have open-heart surgery, and in a week you’re doing cardiac rehab from home. For someone recovering from addiction to need weeks and months of treatment just to get back to a normal level of functioning is very difficult for people to accept.”
Myth #34: Veterans become homeless because they’re lazy
Myth of the Week #34:
The VA helps our veterans. If they’re homeless, it’s because they’re lazy.
Fact: In addition to the complex set of factors influencing all homelessness – extreme shortage of affordable housing, livable income and access to health care – a large number of displaced and at-risk veterans live with lingering effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse, which are compounded by a lack of family and social support networks. Additionally, military occupations and training are not always transferable to the civilian workforce, placing some veterans at a disadvantage when competing for employment.
A top priority for homeless veterans is secure, safe, clean housing that offers a supportive environment free of drugs and alcohol.
Myth #33: Mental illness isn’t real illness
Myth of the Week #33:
Mental illnesses aren’t real illnesses.
Fact: The words we use to describe mental illnesses have changed greatly over time. What hasn’t changed is the fact that mental illnesses are not the regular ups and downs of life. Mental illnesses create distress, don’t go away on their own, and are real health problems with effective treatments. When someone breaks their arm, we wouldn’t expect them to just “get over it.” Nor would we blame them if they needed a cast, sling, or other help in their daily life while they recovered. Why would we expect anything different of those struggling with mental health issues?
Myth #32: Summer isn’t dangerous for the homeless
Myth of the Week #32:
Because of extreme cold, winter is the only dangerous season for those experiencing homelessness.
Fact: Despite what some might think, Minnesota winters are not the only dangerous time for individuals experiencing homelessness and living on the streets. Each season presents its own set of unique challenges and dangers.
As we finally start to see the warmth of summer, those living on the streets are preparing for extreme heat and dangerous weather and the dangers of ailments like heat stroke and dehydration.
Being homeless is dangerous no matter what time of the year it is. Help us keep working to move men and women off the streets and into housing.
Myth #31: You can be overweight and experience food insecurity
Myth of the Week #31:
A person who is overweight cannot be experiencing food insecurity.
Fact: People experiencing food insecurity often have very little choice about the food they eat and even those that have a choice often feel forced into eating cheaper, less healthy food so that they can make it through the month on what little money or SNAP benefits (formerly called food stamps) they have. Food like fruits and veggies sometimes aren’t an option because they are simply too expensive.
This is why the meals at our Food Centre are so important. We provide a healthy meal to ensure that not only are people able to get a full meal but that they are also getting proper nutrition to become and stay healthy.
Myth #30: You can overcome addiction with willpower
Myth of the Week #30:
Only people with no willpower struggle with drug addiction.
Another common misconception about drug addiction is that it is a sign of weakness and lack of willpower. However, in reality, many different factors come into play when a person develops an addiction. The Mayo Clinic lists the following common factors that make a person more likely to develop a drug addiction:
Gender – Men are 50% more likely to struggle with drug abuse and addiction.
Other psychological conditions – A person who is struggling with another psychological condition such as anxiety or depression may use drugs as a form of self-medication.
Family history of addiction – Having one or more relatives that has an addiction makes a person more likely to also develop one.
Family problems – Tensions between parents and children, spouses, and other loved ones can create stress in a person’s life that can lead to drug use, which in turn can lead to addiction.
Pressure from friends – Peer pressure can be a powerful influence on people, especially teenagers and young adults, to start using drugs.
Addictive potential – Drugs like heroin and cocaine are extremely addictive, so using them can make a person develop an addiction faster.
Myth #29: Food waste and hunger are not connected
Myth of the Week #29:
Food waste and hunger are different problems with different solutions.
Fact: By reducing food waste in America, we can also help reduce hunger. Seventy-two billion pounds of good food go to waste each year in America, while at the same time, 41 million people struggle with hunger. Rescuing food from going to waste is critical to solving the hunger problem in our country.
Myth #28: Addicts are bad people
Myth of the Week #28:
Addicts are bad people.
Fact: Addicts aren’t “bad” people trying to get “good,” they’re sick people trying to get well. They don’t belong to a particular race or exist only in certain parts of the country. They are lawyers, farmers, soldiers, mothers and grandfathers who struggle with drug dependence on a daily basis. They are proof that addiction doesn’t discriminate-but, thankfully, neither does recovery.
Myth #27: People are hungry because they don’t work
Myth of the Week #27:
People who don’t have enough food don’t work.
Fact: This might have been true in the mid-20th century with a booming economy and record-high wages, but the story today is very different. More than half of households who are food insecure – the government term describing hunger – have an adult working full-time, and another 16 percent have someone working part-time, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Altogether, 75 percent of food insecure households have a worker in the home.
Myth #26: You can’t be homeless AND have a job
Myth of the Week #26:
Getting a job will keep someone out of homelessness.
Fact: The National Low Income Housing Coalition found a full-time minimum wage worker would have to work between 69 and 174 hours a week, depending on the state, to pay for an “affordable” two-bedroom rental unit (the federal government defines affordable as no more than 30 percent of a person’s income). A full-time minimum wage worker couldn’t afford a one- or two-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent, a standard set by the federal government, in any state.
Check out this info by the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless to see how we in Minnesota are working to provide affordable housing for ALL.
Myth #25: Homelessness will always be a problem
Myth of the Week #25:
Homelessness has always been and will always be a problem.
FACT: Homelessness in the United States has ebbed and flowed greatly since colonization and by studying our history we can once again overcome this era of homelessness.
Colonial America: Many people spent everything they had to move to the “new world” and had nothing, including no place to live when they got here.
The solution of the time, Elizabethan Poor Laws (1601)
1. Poor relief is a public responsibility.
2. Serve those from your area.
3. Families must take care of their own before government relief is given.
4. Children without caregivers will work as apprentices.
Urbanization: At the end of the Civil War, soldiers and freed slaves gathered in cities but the number of jobs and homes could not keep up with the increasing population. This created a negative stigma about poverty.
The solution: Industrialization and World War 1
The Great Depression: Unregulated capitalism in congruence with a nationwide drought brought about an increase in homelessness and the iconic “hobo” image.
The solution: World War 2 and FDR’s New Deal. These solutions greatly benefited white Americans and left minorities on the sidelines.
Modern Era (1980-Present):
Poor economic performance of the late 70s and 80s, a shift away from industrialization and toward a service based economy, the deinstitutionalization of America, and changes in programs that had assisted poor and uninsured Americans created an upturn in homelessness that has not yet been solved.
The Solution: Focus on what has worked in the past; Public support, de-stigmatizing homelessness and poverty, affordable housing, and living wage jobs.
The construction of affordable housing will reduce property values in the area.
Fact: Affordable housing does not reduce the property value of other homes in the community. According to a recent study, property values in the community increased after the construction of affordable rental housing. The local economy was also improved because of the influx of residents.
The availability of affordable housing is so important to many in our community. The disappearance of affordable rental housing is a huge problem and we need to continue to advocate for those who need it.
Myth #23: Supporting the homeless will cause more homeless individuals to move here
Myth of the Week #23:
Providing help for the homeless in Minnesota will only cause more homeless people to move to here.
Fact: Most people experiencing homelessness do not have the resources to move to a new city. If they do move, they move to search for work or to be with family. An estimated 75% of homeless people are still living in the city in which they became homeless. According to a study by the Wilder Foundation, only 23% of the homeless in Minnesota have lived in the state for less than two years. Of that 23%, more than 1/3 had lived in Minnesota previously.
Myth #22: People with mental illness are damaged
Myth of the Week #22:
People with mental illness are “damaged” and different.
Fact: A mental illness does not make someone any less of a person, just as someone fighting cancer is not less. They are not broken or odd; they just have different experiences that not everyone has faced.
Myth #21: Taxes support laziness with government programs
Myth of the Week #21:
Government programs enable lazy people to live well on society’s dime.
Fact: Receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) hardly enables anyone to live well. The average benefit equates to roughly $1.40 per person per meal. And in most cases, the money runs out before the month ends – typically after only three weeks – forcing families to rely on charity to eat. Government programs like SNAP are designed to ensure that people receive the sustenance they need so they can contribute back to society and get off these programs. How productive could we expect anyone to be if they haven’t eaten for days or weeks or longer?
Myth #20: There will never be no homeless
Myth of the Week #20:
There will always be homeless and poor in our communities.
Fact: Researchers and policymakers are optimistic about the prospect of ending homelessness. For two decades, the goal of our homeless programs was to first treat people for the things they struggled with (like substance abuse or illness) and hope that this would lead them out of homelessness. Now, the attention has shifted to the endgame: Get people back into housing as quickly as possible, the new thinking goes, and the treatment for everything else can quickly follow — and with greater benefits.
People who haven’t had a private residence in years have succeeded in these new housing first programs, which place the individuals directly into their own housing units, bypassing shelters. Rent is subsidized and services are provided to help these tenants maintain their housing and be good neighbors.
Myth #19: Family and friends can’t help an addict
Myth of the Week #19:
There is nothing friends or family can do to help someone struggling with addiction.
Fact: This myth maintains that friends and family members are powerless against the addiction. This myth is not only incorrect, but it is dangerous since it implies that loved ones and their actions do not factor into someone’s ability to get recover from addiction. No one can force an addicted person to quit using, but luckily, there are many methods you can use to improve the situation. Support and understanding is vital to successful recovery. Check out this piece by one of our staff about the importance of outside support during recovery.
Myth #18: People need food assistance because their families are too big
Myth of the Week #18:
People receiving emergency food assistance need help because they have too many kids.
Fact: No. Most families seeking assistance consist of 2-3 people, usually a mom and one or two children (average household size is 2.2 individuals). Only 3% of households have more than six members. According to Feeding America, 52% of client households are single-person households.
Myth #17: The homeless don’t want to change their situation
Myth of the Week #17:
Homeless individuals are fine with being homeless.
Fact: Much the same way that unemployed people see themselves as being “between jobs,” some people who live in their vehicles, or on friends’ couches, say they are not homeless.
Accepting that you are homeless is a pretty hard pill to swallow. When you stop believing that your current state is anything but temporary, the going gets a lot tougher.
Myth #16: Mental illness is all an act
Myth of the Week #16:
People are “faking it” or portraying a mental illness for attention.
Fact: No one would choose to have a mental illness, just as no one would choose to have a physical illness. The causes for mental health conditions are intensively studied and they are real. For anyone living with a mental health condition, their specific symptoms may not always be visible to an untrained observer. It can be challenging to relate to what people with mental health conditions are going through, but that doesn’t mean that their condition isn’t real.
Myth #15: Only children go hungry
Myth of the Week #15:
Children are the only ones who go hungry.
Fact: The person most likely to be hungry is a single, working mother. Federal programs ensure that
low-income children can get free meals at school, but their mothers, many of whom are single and work
low-paying jobs in the service sector, often have to make tough choices between food, rent, gas for the
car, health care or new shoes for their kids. Millions of American women who face this predicament will
feed their children and go without meals themselves.
Another tragedy in America is the rapidly growing number of seniors who have to choose between food,
medicine and utilities. Though few of our elders will admit to needing help, a study by Meals on
Wheels indicated that as many as 6 million are going
Myth #14: Mental illness and addiction cause homelessness
Myth of the Week #14:
Homelessness is always related to mental illness and/or
Fact: Homelessness is caused more frequently by a lack of shelter and affordable housing. Traditionally, it’s been accompanied by, or a result of, untreated mental illness and/or substance abuse. But those living in RVs, vans and cars are more likely doing so because of economic hardship. Moving into the car is frequently a logical first step for people who lose their homes or are evicted from their apartments. Check out this story about Jennifer, one of our clients who was forced to live in her car when she lost her job.
Myth #13: Addiction is for life
Myth of the Week #13:
Addiction is for life.
Fact: This simply isn’t true, and it places a huge emotional and psychological burden on recovered addicts. Addiction is a spectrum disorder, like depression, and every person is different. While there are plenty of cases where addicts struggle for years to overcome a drug addiction, many more cases reveal the opposite: short-term users who manage to put the past behind them and lead normal and productive lives. According to the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, 75% of alcoholics recover without treatment.
Myth #12: Hunger is a myth
Myth of the Week #12:
Hunger itself is a myth.
Fact: There are 50 million Americans who are food insecure, which is the most broadly-used measure of food deprivation in the United States. The USDA defines food insecurity as meaning “consistent access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources at times during the year.”
Myth #11: Homeless shelters are THE solution
Myth of the Week #11:
Shelters are a humane solution to homelessness.
Fact: Large shelters are notoriously overcrowded and often unruly places where people experience the ritualized indignities of destitution: long lines for bedding or a squeeze of toothpaste; public showers; thieves; conflict. Shelters may be the final safety net, but that net scrapes perilously close to the ground. To be in a shelter is to be homeless, and the more shelters we build, the more resources we divert from the only real solution to homelessness: permanent housing.
Our housing provides individuals with more than a temporary solution. We offer them hope, resources, and support until they have regained their independence.
Myth #10: Relapse = failure
Myth of the Week #10:
An addiction relapse equals failure.
Fact: A relapse does not equate to failure. It is not a failure of the previous treatment attempts, the supports in place for the person, or the person. In fact, viewing this as a failure may breed unwanted emotional responses like:
These feelings hurt both the addicted person and those that love him and may fuel continued substance
use. Relapse is a normal part of recovery and it can even be a helpful tool in indicating the need for a
modification or reinvestment in treatment. It can be a sign that additional types of treatment should be
explored and employed. Making necessary changes to the treatment plan increases the chances of maintaining future recovery efforts.
Myth #9: Non-profits have hunger handled
Myth of the Week #9:
Non-profit programs can take care of the hunger problem.
Fact: Many organizations simply cannot keep up with the need on their own. In the past few years, 44% of programs reported having less food than needed to meet the needs of those seeking assistance. Even though non-profits can feed those who are hungry, we still rely on grants, donations, and other support. We need YOU, the neighbors of those facing a hunger crisis, to make sure organizations can keep their doors open and food on the table.
Myth #8: Homeless people are lazy
Myth of the Week #8:
Homeless people don’t work.
Fact: Only a small percentage of individuals who are experiencing homelessness don’t have some form of employment. Those that don’t are often forced into that situation by factors such as addiction, mental illness, and even simply stigma. However, the majority of individuals and families experiencing homelessness, whether short-term or chronic, are forced to do so because they cannot afford housing. Minnesota, and much of the country, is finding itself in the midst of an affordable housing crisis; the cost of living is going up, and yet minimum wage is not a living wage.
We need to start advocating for living wage laws, affordable housing, and our neighbors who, no matter how hard they work, may never be able to afford a home. It’s time to step up.
Help us house those who need a home and advocate for those who can’t afford one.
Myth #7: Addicts are easy to identify
Myth of the Week #7:
Addicts are easy to identify.
Fact: Myths and stereotypes usually work in combination to spread misinformation. The typical stereotype of an addict often includes the following characteristics:
Low socioeconomic background.
Involved with criminal activity
Overall, many of these stereotypes are unfounded. Take the case of heroin use as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
Rates of use among non-Hispanic whites are nearly double that of all other groups combined.
Rates of women using have been increasing at rates higher than men.
People making between $20,000 and $49,999 are showing rates of use increasing faster than those making less than $20,000.
The truth is that people addicted to substances exist in every walk of life regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, employment, or economic status. Addiction is a condition that impacts everyone.
Our Day by Day treatment programs helps men and women overcome addiction and mental illness.
Myth #6: Government encourage laziness
Myth of the Week #6:
Government programs (like food stamps) allow lazy people to live well on society’s dime.
Fact: Receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) hardly enables anyone to live well. The average benefit equates to roughly $1.40 per person per meal. And in most cases, the money runs out before the month ends – typically after only three weeks – forcing families to rely on places like our Food Centre to eat.
Government programs like SNAP are designed to ensure that people receive the sustenance they need so they can contribute back to society and no longer need these programs.
How productive could we expect anyone to be if they haven’t eaten for days or weeks or longer?
Our Food Centre helps bridge the gaps when even SNAP isn’t enough.
Myth #5: Homelessness is permanent
Myth of the Week #5:
Homelessness is usually a long-term condition.
In reality, the most common length of time that someone experiences homelessness is one or two days.
Long-term, or chronic, homelessness, which applies to individuals who have been homeless for a year or more or who have been homeless three times in the last four years, is relatively rare. In a given year, about 2 million people throughout the United States experience homelessness, but only about 100,000 are chronically homeless.
Often, those experiencing long-term homelessness struggle with other circumstances that contribute to their situation. Factors such as addiction, mental illness, or tenuous family relationships play heavily into the length of their homelessness.
By getting individuals off the streets, not only will we better their circumstances and futures, but it also allow resources to be redirected toward long-term support and improvement.
We support individuals as they move out of homelessness and toward permanent housing.
We also address addiction and mental health, which can be factors in homelessness.
Myth #4: We can’t help the hungry
Myth of the Week #4:
There’s nothing we can do to help those who are hungry.
Fact: Hunger isn’t only about available food. It’s also related to jobs and wages. The passage of living-wage laws would be a huge step. But until then, and beyond, we are the ones who make the change. By volunteering with organizations that feed (like House of Charity), by donating food, by supporting organizations financially, by advocating and refusing to allow the hungry to be ignored.
There is so much that can be done to stop the hunger crisis in America.
Our Food Centre feeds hungry individuals in Minneapolis every day. No discrimination. No questions asked.
Myth #3: Those with mental illness are dangerous
Myth of the Week #3:
People with mental health conditions are violent and dangerous.
Fact: People with mental health conditions are more likely to be a victim of violence rather than the perpetrator, that’s four times the rate of the general public.
It is an entirely false assumption that having a mental health condition makes a person more likely to be violent or dangerous. Studies have shown that 1 in 4 individuals living with a mental health condition will be a victim of some form of violence in any given year.
Our Day by Day treatment program helps men and women not only address addictions but also offers support during struggles with mental illness.
Myth #2: Mental illness = personal weakness
Myth of the Week #2:
Mental illness is caused by personal weakness.
Fact: Mental illness is not the fault of the individual who is struggling with it. It is just like any major illness. Environmental and biological factors can have a big influence. Extreme stress or traumatic experiences like experiencing homelessness also contribute to make a person more vulnerable.
Our Day by Day treatment program helps men and women not only address addictions but also offers support during struggles with mental illness.
Myth #1: The hungry don’t have jobs
Myth of the Week #1:
The people who struggle with hunger and/or visit our Food Centre don’t have jobs.
Fact: The majority of the men and women who visit our Food Centre have at least one job.
People struggle with hunger not because they are lazy, but because what little income they have each month is used for other necessities first. In the hierarchy of living, things like housing come first.
Often, meals will be skipped.
Our Food Centre makes sure that people are able to have at least one good, filling meal every day.